Welcome back, everybody, to yet another edition of CHART ATTACK!  I know I’ve been hanging out in the late ’80s/early ’90s for the past few weeks.  I can’t help it; those are the years where I know most of the songs like the back of my hand.  Still, there are many other years to cover, and there’s a lot of fun in learning new stuff about mediocre songs.  And wouldn’t you know it – that brings us to the Top 10 for this week: February 16, 1980!

10.  Desire – Andy Gibb  Amazon iTunes
9.  On The Radio – Donna Summer
  Amazon iTunes
8.  Longer – Dan Fogelberg  Amazon iTunes
7.  Sara – Fleetwood Mac  Amazon iTunes
6.  Yes, I’m Ready – Teri DeSario with K.C.  iTunes
5.  Rock With You – Michael Jackson  Amazon iTunes
4.  Cruisin’ – Smokey Robinson  Amazon iTunes
3.  Coward Of The County – Kenny Rogers  Amazon iTunes
2.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen  Amazon iTunes
1.  Do That To Me One More Time – The Captain & Tennille  Amazon iTunes

10.  Desire – Andy Gibb  If you’re like me, you probably recognize that there’s a time and place for Bee Gee vocals.  Sometimes you really want to hear ’em; other times, you want to stick shards of glass in your ears in order to stop them.  If this is one of those bad days, don’t listen to this song.  (Here, I’ll make it easier for you by not offering it for download.)  I can take the trademark vocal sound most of the time, but when they are pathetically reduced to little more than repeatedly whining an "aaaah," it’s time for me to go.

"Desire" wasn’t really an Andy Gibb song, actually.  It was recorded by the Bee Gees (with Andy on guest lead) in 1979, but wasn’t included on any of their albums.  Gibb, who had enjoyed massive success in the late ’70s (he was the first artist to hit #1 with his first three consecutive releases), was starting to fade.  "Desire" was his last Top 10 in America, and taken from his final album.

9.  On The Radio – Donna Summer  Peaking at #5, "On The Radio" was one of Summer’s final disco hits before giving the finger to record label Casablanca and wisely moving away from the already present backlash.  Produced by longtime Summer collaborator Giorgio Moroder, you have to wonder whether Summer had just had it with the whole disco thing.  I mean, here’s a video of her performing "On The Radio," and she doesn’t move at all throughout the song.  I didn’t know it was possible.  I know I can’t help but shake my booty to this one.  The song was featured as the theme song to the movie Foxes, which  had a Moroder soundtrack and featured (among others) Jodie Foster and Scott Baio.  I honestly have no clue whether I want to see this movie or not.  I kind of do, but I kind of don’t.

8.  Longer – Dan Fogelberg  I’m gonna keep my commentary on "Longer" brief, because I think I could definitely hit this one up in a future Mellow Gold post.  Here’s some chart-relevant info, however: "Longer" is easily Fogelberg’s biggest commercial success, climbing up to #2 four weeks after this one, selling millions of copies – and yet, Fogelberg never thought that highly of it.  He felt it was just a simple, "classic love song," and not his best work.  Still, it will be played at weddings until the end of time.  Fogelberg, when asked if he received royalties from weddings, joked, "I receive a slice of cake from each wedding. I have filled a room with them, and someday hope to build, using them as the bricks of my future."

7.  Sara – Fleetwood Mac  Remember what I said above about the Bee Gee vocals?  I’m the same with Stevie Nicks, except that I almost never want to hear her sing anything.  Still, as Stevie vocals go, this one isn’t bad, and I think the opening to the song is quite beautiful.  A single released off of Tusk, "Sara" peaked here at #7.

There’s a lot of talk on the ‘net about this song, so personal to Stevie Nicks that she almost never plays it in concert, and mysterious to her fans.  Some claim it’s about the dissolution of her relationship with Mick Fleetwood (who went on to date – and marry, because this is Fleetwood Mac we’re talking about – Stevie’s friend Sara).  Others say it’s about the aborted lovechild she had with Don Henley.  There’s another camp that say it’s about Lindsey Buckingham (I think this camp is full of cop-outs; saying a Nicks song is about Buckingham is like shooting fish in a barrel).  Here’s what I say: why does anybody care what the hell Stevie Nicks is yapping about?  Seriously, when I went to see Fleetwood Mac in 2004, the audience was firmly broken up into two camps: the obsessive, we-all-wear-scarves-’cause-we’re-gypsies-too! Stevie fans, and everybody else.  I don’t get it.  But if you do, and you want to hear some deep interpretation of "Sara," have at it.  Rumor has it that this song was originally sixteen minutes long.  Would you listen to a sixteen-minute "Sara"?

6.  Yes, I’m Ready – Teri DeSario with K.C.  This song is a lot more interesting if you imagine they’re talking about trying anal sex for the first time.

5.  Rock With You – Michael Jackson (download)  The second single from Off The Wall, "Rock With You" marked the beginning of Jackson’s collaboration with ex-Heatwave member Rod Temperton, who also wrote "Thriller."  Temperton had to make some changes to the song, however, as its original title/hook line "I wanna eat you up" didn’t sit well with the Jackson camp.  The video was rather primitive by Jackson standards, featuring the singer in the most awkward-looking jumpsuit ever (hello, sequins!) against some colorful lights.  Still, it was probably one of the last times you could truly say that Jackson was really concentrating on just the music.

While checking out the above video, I noticed this other clip on YouTube of Jackson performing the song at a charity event in 1980.  The quality is awful, but while watching it, I was struck with a thought I hadn’t had before: in 1980, Michael Jackson was just a kid in his early ’20s trying to shed his childhood.  You can’t help but notice it in this performance.


4.  Cruisin’ – Smokey Robinson  How lame is it that I actually hadn’t heard the original version of this song until this week?  I don’t know how it got there, but I’ve had the 2000 cover by Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis on my iPod since 2002.  I actually really love the cover (Paltrow has a great voice, and who doesn’t love Huey Lewis?), but it’s hard to improve on the great Smokey Robinson.  "Cruisin’," which peaked here at #4, was Robinson’s first Top 20 hit as a solo artist, followed by "Being With You" in 1981.  I didn’t really have much else to say about this song, so (of course) I went searching on YouTube for a video.  I couldn’t find one of Smokey, but I did find an odd amateur video, and if anybody could explain it to me, it’d be much appreciated.

3.  Coward Of The County – Kenny Rogers (download)  Go on.  Explain to me why the hell this song was a hit.  My personal belief is that it must have just been because it was released at a time where, like many other artists, Kenny Rogers could just do no wrong.  The reason I believe this is because this song sucks.  First of all, it’s a complete – complete – ripoff of "The Gambler."  The chords are similar, there are similar key changes, even the whole narrative form is the same.  I guarantee you that, when each verse ends, you’ll be stopping yourself from singing "You gotta know when to hold ’em…"

And there is a story here: briefly, it’s about a dude (Tommy) who is known as the pussy coward of the county, mainly because his dad told him to never fight.  One day, three guys come around and rape his girlfriend Becky (uh…yeeee-hawww?), and Tommy beats the crap out of ’em.  You go, Tommy!  I’ll be honest with you, I actually was riveted when listening to the song for the first time, because I was convinced Tommy wasn’t going to do anything about it.  I’m walking down the street actually saying, "what the hell is he going to do NOW?" and generally looking like a crazy person any normal guy on the streets of NYC.

Moral of the story?  Our fathers are full of shit.  Don’t listen to them.  Stand up for yourself when your girlfriend gets assaulted, you sissies.

2.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen 
Damn, do I love "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" – not only because it’s a fantastic song, but it was released at a particularly fertile time for the band.  The Game featured many of Queen’s trademark rock touches, but also showed the group branching out in unfamiliar directions, most notably funk and, with this track, rockabilly.  Freddie Mercury reportedly wrote this song while in the bathtub, and brought it to his bandmates with almost all the parts completed.  The song is also notable because it doesn’t feature Brian May’s trademark Red Special guitar; instead, he plays the lead parts on a Telecaster.

It’s amusing to note that Mercury also reportedly wrote the song on guitar, since he couldn’t really play very well at all.  Live, Mercury originally opened the song on an acoustic, at least until the mid ’80s, when he switched to a tinny Telecaster (most likely because it was easier to play).  May would join him on an Ovation acoustic, before switching to the Telecaster and then the Red Special.  Three guitar changes, one song.  Here’s a video of the group playing the song at Live Aid.  I’ve never seen anybody strum a guitar like Freddie.  If you notice closely, at around 2:04 he completely turns down the volume on his guitar.  I’ve never heard him play any more than the opening.

1.  Do That To Me One More Time – The Captain & Tennille 
See #6.

(Actually, we’ve talked about this one before, in Chart Attack! #12, which covered 12/15/79.  Go read it, if only for the comments about this song, which cracked my shit up.)

And speaking of the ’70s, please come on back next Friday, when we’ll cover a Top 10 absolutely crawling with Gibbs!  Until then, have a great weekend and thanks for joining me for CHART ATTACK!

About the Author

Jason Hare

Jason Hare used to love Christmas. He feels differently now.

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